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Path To Paradise

Path To Paradise

By Patrick Samuel • October 26th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
PATH TO PARADISE (MOVIE)
HBO

Original airdate: June 14th, 1997
Running time: 91 minutes

Directors: Leslie Libman, Larry Williams
Writer: Ned Curren

Cast: Peter Gallagher, Art Malik, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Guilfoyle

Path To Paradise

Hindsight. We’ve all experienced that moment after something’s happened. It’s only then we start to understand all the signs that lead up to it and say “I knew it all along!” Sometimes it’s small things that have little to no consequence in the greater scheme of things, but other times these consequences can be catastrophic, and even cost lives. So why do we fail to see what’s so often right in front of us?

Many people remain unaware that 2001 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex, that ultimately lead to their destruction, wasn’t the first time the famous buildings had been targeted. The bombing on the afternoon of February 26th, 1993, when a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center, was the first sign that not only the buildings were vulnerable, but that the attack could’ve been entirely prevented had those investigating the involved would-be bombers been allowed to do their jobs without interference from higher up in the chain of command.

“It was lightly snowing on a Friday afternoon when suddenly, at 12:18, a massive explosion shook the foundation of the Twin Towers of the Trade Center in lower Manhattan – the tallest buildings in the region and a magnet for tourists and business travelers alike. A bomb hidden in a van had exploded, causing an immense shower of glass and concrete debris to fall. Shrill screams of innocent victims followed, and then the piercing wails of sirens from ambulances, police cars, and fire engines resounded in all of downtown Manhattan. Experts called it the most destructive act of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil.” ¹

Path To Paradise

Of course, that was before the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19th, 1995 that killed 168 people, and September 11th when nearly 3000 people were killed by the events that unfolded that morning. Still, there were many signs along the way that could’ve tipped off investigators that an attack was immanent on the Towers, and there many lessons that could’ve been learned to prevent future attacks and help in the emergency responses in 2001. Path To Paradise: The Untold Story Of The World Trade Center Bombing is a made-for-television dramatization that focuses on the (deliberate?) failings of the FBI to prevent the bombing.

Made in 1997, it’s the story of FBI agents John Anticev (Peter Gallagher) and Nancy Floyd (Marcia Gay Harden) who were initially investigating the assassination of Meir Kahane, an American-Israeli rabbi and ultra-nationalist writer and political figure, who was giving a public address in Manhattan on November 5th, 1990. El Sayyid Nosair (Shaun Toub), an Egyptian-born American citizen, who was among the crowd, is shot and apprehended. While he’s awaiting trial, Anticev and Floyd track down his associates and haul them in for questioning, and going by intuition alone they suspect these guys are up to something. Meanwhile, Ramzi Yousef (Art Malik) enters America, along with Ahmed Ajaj (Christopher McCann), he’s detained for questioning over falsified documents but claims asylum and is set free until his hearing a few months later.

What’s amazing about the story is that Anticev and Floyd actually had a reliable informant. Emad Salem (Ned Eisenberg), a former Egyptian army officer, had offered his services for $500 a week, but the agents were forced to turn him loose when they couldn’t secure him for more Path To Paradisethan one week’s work. As February 26th draws closer we see Yousef and Ajaj finalizing their plans with Nosair when they visit him in prison. The 1,336 lb urea nitrate–hydrogen gas enhanced device they put together is designed to blow the base off the North Tower and knock it into the South Tower, bringing both towers down at the same time and killing as many people as possible.

Path To Paradise is made from a tightly written screenplay that needs to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time, but it manages it adequately. It doesn’t investigate or enquire, it merely dramatizes what can be gleamed from the official accounts of what happened. Yet it paints Anticev and Floyd in a very positive light which is hard to accept once you’ve listened to the to the real tapes recorded by Emad Salem as he spoke with the FBI agents. The tapes indicate not only that the FBI knew about the bombing plot, but facilitated it. Subsequently, Salem’s tapes, which were provided to defense lawyers, were not used in the trial.

SOURCES:

  • [1] Angus Kress Gillespie, Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center (Nov 1, 1999), Rutgers University Press

What’s also evident in this story is that the FBI agents, at one point or another, had all of the key bombers prior to February 26th but were forced to release them. It’s with this, the lack of Arabic translators, government agencies failing to pass information to each other and the FBI not being able to connect the dots right in front of their eyes that we see how opportunities were allowed to be missed for preventing the attack.

Realising that their informant, Salem, was genuine about the plot to bomb a high-rise building, Anticev and Floyd are only instructed to use him after the bombing takes place, but his fee rises to $1million. Undoubtedly though, there’s much more to uncover about the plot to blow up the World Trade Center once you start to look into it (the Bojinka plot, for example, it involved a plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II, an air bombing of 11 airliners flying from Asia to the United States and crashing a plane into the CIA headquarters in Langley), but Path To Paradise offers us a good place as any to get the ball rolling. With some wonderful shots of the Twin Towers as well as a handful of strong performances, the film concludes with a chilling scene that serves as a warning… a warning that no one heeded. We see Yusef in a helicopter with FBI agents following his arrest, and as it turns and heads past the Twin Towers he looks directly at them with scorn and says “Next time we will take them BOTH down.”

Path To Paradise

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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